Continuing our guest blogs, Rashad Shamim (formerly of PwC), an expert in finance transformation, comments about its relevance for SMEs. Rashad writes:

I recently met with a finance director of an SME (small & medium sized enterprise) in the transport sector. I was intrigued by the story of how this company, of fewer than 100 employees and turnover of less than £20m, beat a much larger competitor to a lucrative contract by demonstrating to a customer how much better their internal systems were at managing operations.

The director whom I met was instrumental to this success. I was interested to find out how he had used technology and made it a competitive differentiator for their company. What was the secret to this success? It turns out it was quite simple really, and in this case, small is beautiful:-

  • I asked the director, was the cost of the technology prohibitive for an SME? It turns out it wasn’t. Technology can be bought on an ‘as needed basis’ with Software as a Service (“SaaS”).SaaS applications are subscription based. There are no licence fees which means lower initial costs and all the costs of investing in expensive computer infrastructure are not the concern for the SME. Think of SaaS like hiring a car – you get to use it at a fraction of the cost of buying the car, but get much the same benefits.
  • Then I asked how much effort the changes took to implement. As an SME has limited resources perhaps this was the most challenging aspect to the adoption of new technology. Well, a SME seems to have a feature that is valued in today’s rapidly changing world – agility. The smaller company can come up with a solution to a business problem, find technology to support this solution, and implement it within a matter of weeks while larger companies face numerous challenges in making the same changes.
  • Lastly and perhaps the question that was really at the heart of the change. How did the SME come up with the idea to change and use technology? The executive smiled broadly. It turns out they had an affinity and interest in technology. This belief in technology and knowledge of what it can accomplish was critical, I am sure. But what if this knowhow and interest is missing from within a company? This is where external advice can really benefit a company, through business advisers such as SME Strategies.

Technology enabled change is not just for the largest companies and it is exciting to hear how technology enabled transformation in an SME resulted in much better business information – directly leading to an improvement in both the top line, and more importantly, the bottom line. This should be more than intriguing; this could be game changing for some SME firms.

Have you come across examples of successful technological change in an SME? Do you share any of these observations? If so, please add a comment to this blog. Let’s get the SMEs using their smaller size and natural agility to overtake their larger cousins. This is a premise of SME Strategies – to deliver outstanding service to clients at a fraction of the cost of the big names in consultancy and accountancy.

Rashad Shamim ACA

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